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Have a Go

Record numbers try Volvo Sailing... Have a Go!

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Marlene's response is quite typical when she's asked how she's feeling about going sailing with the Volvo Sailing... Have a Go! programme.

"I'm happy but a bit nervous," the year five student from Tamaki Primary School admits. "I might fall out of the boat and a shark might come and eat me." 

It's an irrational fear but a common one. There's a happy ending to this story: Marlene was not devoured by a shark.

In fact, none of the nearly 4000 children who experienced the programme this summer met that fate and 95 percent express an interest in continuing to sail. Their contact details are passed on to their local yacht clubs to follow up and invite them and their families back for open days and learn to sail courses.

The Volvo Sailing... Have a Go! programme wraps up its 14th season on Thursday and close to 4000 children aged 8-12 will have taken part. It eclipses the 3730 children who took part in the summer of 2017/18, which was a record.

"We've had a great summer with the Volvo Sailing... Have a Go! programme," says Justin Hurst, the have a go instructor for the northern region. "The weather has been pretty kind to us... and it's basically meant we've been able to get to all part of the country. I personally got to go to Great Barrier Island, which was a great experience.

"For many children, it's the first time they've been out on water above their head so we're looking to challenge the kids in a fun but safe environment so they can enjoy the magic of sailing and just being out on the water.

"The cool thing is seeing them go from scared and apprehensive to kids who just have no fear in the boat. That's somewhere between about 10 minutes and two hours. That fear about sharks and deep water disappears."

The day is as much about confidence in the water as it is sailing and many are introduced the feeling of what it's like to float in the water with a lifejacket on. Capsizing and water fights are popular after the children have picked up the basics of sailing.

The three, distinct Volvo Sailing... Have a Go! trailers covered the entire country this summer, from Taipa in the north to Riverton in the south. They're decked out with all of the equipment needed for a day's sailing, including six Optimists, one Weta, two Topper Taz and one RIB, as well wetsuits and lifejackets.

A big thanks to the yacht clubs and volunteers who have supported the Volvo Sailing…Have a Go! programme this year, and to Volvo, Zhik NZ and the Lion Foundation for their generous support which enables the programme to operate.

Volvo Sailing…Have a Go! will kick off again in term 4 and we are taking bookings now if you would like your school or club to be involved. Contact Yachting New Zealand programme and services co-ordinator Danika Mowlem on (09) 361 4028 or or see here for more information.